These maple cayenne toasted walnuts are the spicy-sweet, healthy salad topper of your dreams! They're also great for snacking and jazzing up your baked goods with an unexpected spice. All you need are four ingredients and 20 minutes! This post was originally published in April 2017 and was updated in February 2022.
As someone who has dedicated her main hobby to making salads and other healthy foods taste delicious, I firmly believe that toppings can be life-changing when it comes to flavor and texture! These maple cayenne toasted walnuts do just that with the perfect amount of spicy-sweet and toasty-crunchy, which is perfect for salads, grain bowls, and even soup toppers.
These walnuts are also great for snacking, and desserts (I'm serious!). The spiciness of cayenne makes your tastebuds more receptive to sweet tastes, amplifying your dessert-tasting experience. So go ahead and throw these maple cayenne toasted walnuts into some carrot cake.
Only four ingredients are required for spicy, maple-glazed walnuts!
- Raw walnuts - I like to use walnut halves for size , but pieces could work too. Any smaller would be a bit too small.
- Pure maple syrup - To add sweetness and balance out spiciness.
- Cayenne pepper - To add spiciness and balance out sweetness.
- Salt - just a pinch to balance out flavor.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a medium bowl, combine walnuts, cayenne pepper, and salt, and stir to coat the walnuts in the spices. Then, pour in the maple syrup and stir until it evenly coats all of the walnuts.
Spread the walnuts in an even layer onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, gently stirring once halfway through. Once they're done, allow them to cool on the sheet pan for a few minutes (they'll crisp up as they cool!).
After that, it's all about the snacking and salad-topping!
Hint: Since ovens vary, start to watch the walnuts closely when you approach the 12-minute mark. If they seem like they're getting overdone, take them out a little early and allow them to start cooling.
Substitutions & Variations
Although a simple recipe, there are substitutions and variations to help you make these toasted walnuts work for you.
- Nuts - Swap the walnuts out for the same amount of pecans, almonds, cashews, or pepitas for different textures and flavors!
- Cinnamon - Add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to the spice mix, OR replace cayenne with cinnamon altogether.
- Kid-friendly - Replace cayenne with cinnamon (see above), or try pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice instead.
Store these cayenne and maple spiced walnuts in an airtight container (we love glass jars/containers) once they've cooled completely, for up to six months in a cool, dry place.
You can also freeze the walnuts in an airtight container (try to leave as little airspace as possible) for up to three months.
These spicy maple-glazed walnuts are delicious plain, but they can also really jazz up your soups, salads, and bowls! Here are some ideas:
- Add to these walnuts instead of pecans to this healthy chicken salad with grapes.
- Top Thai-spiced butternut bisque for a contrasting, spicy crunch.
- Add to healthy pumpkin granola for an unexpected, subtle spice.
- Try them in your favorite healthy carrot cake recipe!
Maple Cayenne Toasted Walnuts
Maple cayenne toasted walnuts are a delicious, spicy-sweet addition to salads, desserts, or just to snack on! All you need are four ingredients and 20 minutes.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 17 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Snack, topping
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
- 2 cups walnut halves
- 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Preheat and prep. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Combine walnuts, spices, and maple syrup. In a medium bowl, combine the walnuts, cayenne, and salt, and toss to coat. Then add maple syrup and stir until the nuts are evenly coated.
- Bake. Spread the maple and cayenne coated walnuts in an even layer across the prepared sheet pan, and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring once halfway through. Once done, allow the walnuts to cool on the sheet pan for a few minutes, then enjoy!
- Store/freeze: Store walnuts in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place for up to six months. You can also freeze them in an airtight container with little airspace, and freeze for up to three months.
- Cook time: Check the walnuts at 12 minutes to see if they seem done. 15 minutes can be too long for some ovens, so smaller pieces of walnuts and edges will burn quickly! A tip that the walnuts are done is that the look toasted and smell fragrant.
Keywords: maple cayenne toasted walnuts, maple spiced walnuts